Thursday, July 19, 2007

Traveler goes out with another bang

Traveler started with a bang: the explosion of the Drexler museum. Its finale closed with a bang, but only after cramming in a shootout, a break-in, a foot chase, a betrayal, a kidnapping, and a death.

(Spoilers, obviously.)

It was great to see Will, Tyler, and Jay together again, this time without pretense. Naturally, the boys spent half the episode asking if they could trust each other, but there were hints of the friendship that was still there between them – especially when, as they often did, they confidently asserted that one of the other guys wouldn't shoot them. (And what do you know? They were right!) After fending off Marlow, at which point Will got shot (but don't worry about him; after the first fifteen minutes, he was totally fine), the guys went to retrieve the painting from the back of Tyler's car. Since the car was in the police impound lot, this meant that Jay had to break into the impound lot, slip into the car, and then fall from the car when it was on a moving flatbed truck, in a very tense and creative action sequence. Nicely done, Traveler.

Marlow, meanwhile, was suspended, but the minute she was, it became clear that she was going to crack the case. It's an undisputed law in any crime drama: the lead investigator must be taken off the case in order to solve it. And, in fact, Marlow made astonishing progress once she wasn't actually allowed to work on the case. She called an NSA buddy to get Joseph's name, and went to Joseph's house just in time for someone to call ordering her death. After their shootout, though, it was Joseph who ended up dead, and it was at that point that I realized that I haven't been giving Marlow the respect that she deserves. She's smart and tough, and it wasn't her fault that the plot kept requiring her to hit dead ends.

The corollary to the rule of suspension, of course, is that no investigator who plays by the rules can be trusted. And no FBI agent was more by-the-book than Chambers – unless it was Borjes. See, I knew one of the two had to be a bad guy. So when Whaley shot at Carlton Fog (Is he dead? I don't know. Will we ever find out? Probably not.) and Borjes cornered him, closely followed by Chambers, I was prepared for something very bad to happen. Or, at least, I thought I was prepared; it was still a shock to see Borjes murdered by Chambers. Poor Borjes. I'm sorry I suspected you. But you have to admit, you were kind of too good, you know?

Once Will and his pals had the painting, they set up an exchange with Freed – the painting for Tyler and Jay's lives back. But here was where you were supposed to think that Will was double-crossing his friends, because Freed really just wanted Tyler and Jay. But – surprise! – Will wasn't about to give up his friends, especially after he saved their lives, so it was all just a fake-out. Their real purpose was to record Freed's confession, including the part about how the Drexler was just for "fear and control" and "just the beginning," as if that whole conspiracy wasn't scary enough. By the way, have I mentioned how great Neal McDonough is? If I haven't, it's only because I thought it was implied.

Even though there's no word on a second season and nothing yet that makes me believe that there might be one, Traveler couldn't resist going out with some cliffhangers. Kim was in the clutches of Operation Hometown, Marlow discovered that Chambers ordered Joseph to kill her, Freed dropped some tantalizing hints about something called a "Fourth Branch," and then the limo Freed was apparently in exploded before the boys could deliver him to the press and start the process of clearing their names.

To be honest, I was expecting closure from Traveler. I thought that, when its episode order got pared down and it was forced to wrap up the story early, that the show would take that opportunity to come to a satisfying conclusion, in case it didn't come back. And although the episode did raise new questions, like the "Fourth Branch," and left Jay and Tyler on the run, I still found it satisfying. It was full of action and suspense, like the rest of the series, and it was the best episode so far. If Traveler has bowed out for good, then it went out on a high note, and there aren't very many shows which can say the same.